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X-Plantation is a collection of strange, horizon-less montages of airport runways created by Austrian artist Hubert Blanz. It’s part of a series called Geospaces, which includes similar sets devoted to motorway interchanges and racing-car tracks. Like all the Geospaces, X-Plantation blends the Vienna-based artist’s interest in mass transit non-places and internet searches.

The creeping confusion evoked by X-Plantation is similar to the sensation of passing through an airport. Looking out of the window of a taxiing plane, we see a sprawling network of concrete paths, and it’s never clear if we’re on the runway itself or just another approach until we hear the roar of the engines. This modern labyrinth is studded with signs and symbols, but they tell us nothing – cryptic numbers on yellow and black signs, or painted on the tarmac, they are a secret language, known only to initiates. Only from the air does the airport form into a comprehensible whole.

Nowadays, we don’t need the roar of the engines to see the airport from above – we can do it at the spin of a mousewheel, looking at aerial photos on an internet map. “You can fly to any destination in the internet,” Blanz says in his monograph Slideshow, published this year by Springer.X-Plantation echoes the artist’s online hunt for source material – it evokes the barrage of similar images that a web search throws up. Searching online, Blanz says, is open-ended, a process with no start or finish, with one link always leading to another. The Geospaces are similarly infinite: runways and taxiways knotted together into an unending pattern, with no terminal building or takeoff. They offer endless transit without arrival, like the seamless non-places of the networked world.






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